Small is beautiful in a Kanazawa garden

Jun 30, 2013

Small is beautiful in a Kanazawa garden

It is always heartwarming to come across a historical preservation area where people actually live and go about their daily lives. Such is Nagamachi, one of several older districts of Kanazawa, the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast. Less ...

Reflections on two cities

Jun 23, 2013

Reflections on two cities

Having written over 10 guidebooks myself, I speak from experience when I say that working on these projects is a mixed blessing. Writing a first-time guide to a little-known part of the world, with the freedom to innovate with format and content, can be ...

May 19, 2013

Ranpo's novella of a desecrated grave continues to send shivers

There has long been a taste in Japan for the bizarre and abnormal. The experimental Taisho Era was no exception. A desire for sensory experience existed even in cinema. During a funeral scene, for example, an attendant might light sticks of incense in the ...

Taking it easy on stroll-size Omi-jima

May 19, 2013

Taking it easy on stroll-size Omi-jima

Mr. Hirohisa had made it clear when I called him from the nearest mainland city to the island — Nagato in western Honshu's Yamaguchi Prefecture — that there would be no supper provided that night; nor would he be able to pick me up ...

A double dose of guidance offers more than usual information

Apr 28, 2013

A double dose of guidance offers more than usual information

SHINTO SHRINES: A Guide to the Sacred Sites of Japan’s Ancient Religion, by Joseph Cali with John Dougill. University of Hawaii Press, 2012, 328 pp., $24.99 (paperback) KYOTO MACHIYA RESTAURANT GUIDE: Affordable Dining in Traditional Townhouse Spaces, by Judith Clancy. Stone Bridge Press, 2012, ...

Daytime in Kin Town's nocturnal city

Apr 28, 2013

Daytime in Kin Town's nocturnal city

The three drunken U.S. Marines who stumbled into my motorbike headlamps were clearly combat-trained, as their agility in shifting from advanced inebriation to performing a nimble leap onto the sidewalk suggested seriously attuned reflexes.

The 'eternal modern' gardens of Matsuo-taisha

Mar 31, 2013

The 'eternal modern' gardens of Matsuo-taisha

When new buildings were constructed in 1971 at Matsuo-taisha in Kyoto, one of Japan's oldest shrines, the largely self-taught landscape master Mirei Shigemori was commissioned to create a series of gardens on the site.